High-dose opioid utilization and mortality among individuals initiating hemodialysis

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Abstract

Background: Individuals undergoing hemodialysis in the United States frequently report pain and receive three-fold more opioid prescriptions than the general population. While opioid use is appropriate for select patients, high-dose utilization may contribute to an increased risk of death due to possible accumulation of opioid metabolites. Methods: We studied high-dose opioid utilization (≥120 morphine milligram equivalents [MME] per day) among adults initiating hemodialysis in the United States between 2007 and 2014 using national registry data. We calculated the cumulative incidence (%) of high-dose utilization and depicted trends in the average percentage of days individuals were exposed to opioids. We used adjusted Cox proportional hazards models to identify which opioid doses were associated with mortality. Results: Among 327,344 adults undergoing hemodialysis, the cumulative incidence of high-dose utilization was 14.9% at 2 years after initiating hemodialysis. Among patients with ≥1 opioid prescription during follow-up, the average percentage of days exposed to high-dose utilization increased from 13.9% in 2007 to 26.1% in 2014. Compared to 0MME per day, doses < 60MME were not associated with an increased risk of mortality, but high-dose utilization was associated with a 1.63-fold (95% CI, 1.57, 1.69) increased risk of mortality. The risk of mortality associated with opioid dose was highest in the first year after hemodialysis initiation. Conclusions: The risk of mortality associated with opioid utilization among individuals on hemodialysis increases as doses exceed 60MME per day and is greatest during periods of high-dose utilization. Patients and clinicians should carefully weigh the risks and benefits of opioid doses exceeding 60MME per day.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number65
JournalBMC nephrology
Volume22
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2021

Keywords

  • Dialysis
  • Mortality
  • Opioid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology

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